Premiering way back in 1999, Family Guy remains one of the most popular and controversial animated shows on TV. Though the series may have lost its way and left its glory days behind, with 21 seasons under its belt so far, the Griffin family has many terrific episodes that best display the show’s unique charm and comedic prowess.
Seeing how long The Simpsons has been on the air, the day this divisive series ends (again) might not come for quite a while. But until then, these are the ten best Family Guy episodes of all time.
After Peter declares himself dead on a hospital bill, he encounters the actual Grim Reaper (played by the late great Norm MacDonald) and leaves him with a broken ankle. With Death out of commission, the world goes wild on their immortality until Peter is forced to serve as the Grim Reaper and carry out the natural order.
Though The Simpsons may have pulled off this premise better years later, MacDonald steals the show with every line he utters as Death makes himself at home on the Griffins’ couch. All in all, this episode is guaranteed to make audiences die of laughter.
In this classic anthology episode, Family Guy imagines three different scenarios based on ideas sent in by the fans. A treasure chest of comedy is thus unlocked as audiences see what happens when Peter meets a genie, the Griffins get superpowers, and everyone in Quahog becomes children in the vein of The Little Rascals.
It’s a shame Family Guy didn’t do this sort of episode more often, as its hilarious, freeform stories really brought out the best in the show’s writers. Fortunately, the show did a follow-up episode years later, but this has only left fans wanting more.
After Chris witnesses a bank robbery, he and his family enter the Witness Protection Program and move to a run-down house in the Deep South. Each subplot gives each of the Griffins a chance to shine in their own way as they immerse themselves in their strange, new environment.
It features some endearing moments, with Chris gaining courage as he falls in love with a tomboy and Meg becoming popular at school for once. There are also many hilarious bits, with Peter getting attacked by a raccoon, him and Brian becoming the town sheriffs, and Stewie taking up the banjo.
After Peter decides to live like a redneck, his foolish attempt to make his truck fly by siphoning jet fuel causes Quagmire to crash a plane and lose his job. From there, the latter crashes at the Griffins’ house until he can find a new job, forcing them to put up with some of his hilarious and disturbing sexual antics.
But the heart of this shocking episode is Quagmire trying to regain his sense of purpose and fulfillment in life by becoming a pilot again, making this the best chapter for this fan-favorite character.
How does Family Guy kick off the start of the new millennium? Why, with the end of the world of course. After a guy in a chicken suit warns Peter about Y2K, the latter hides his family in a bunker on New Year’s Eve. But when it seems like Peter was misled, the Griffins and the audience are surprised to see the Apocalypse actually occur.
This premise leads to some pretty hysterical moments, with Peter becoming the leader of New Quahog, Stewie turning into an octopus, and Cleveland and Quagmire getting fused together. And with it being the first episode in which Mila Kunis voices Meg and Peter fights Ernie the Giant Chicken, “Da Boom” became a benchmark tale that set a high standard for subsequent episodes.
In Family Guy’s first episode after its three-year cancelation, Peter and Lois take a romantic getaway to regain their passion, which leads to their discovery of Mel Gibson’s sequel to The Passion of the Christ. When Peter and Lois try to get rid of the film, they face Gibson in a Hitchcockian suspense-thriller that takes them to the top of Mount Rushmore.
At the same time, Stewie helps Brian babysit Meg and Chris to the point that they become like an old married couple doing the best they can to parent their kids. And to top it all off, the episode begins with Peter ripping on Fox for canceling Family Guy by listing all the other ill-fated shows the network chose to focus on.
When the Griffins lose power, Peter helps his family pass the time by telling the story of Star Wars, starting with Episode IV. Every character is perfect in their roles in this parody, with Peter, Stewie, and Brian shining especially bright as Han and Vader, respectively.
The episode also injects Family Guy’s brand of witty and referential humor in every scene, from the heroes stealing a couch from the Death Star and Rush Limbaugh hosting an intergalactic talk show. Though it pokes fun at the many idiosyncrasies of George Lucas’s classic film, Blue Harvest serves as one of the pop culture’s funniest love letters to the galaxy far, far away.
As punishment for a DUI, Brian gets court-ordered to assist a bitter, elderly woman. Though he hates her at first, Brian ends up falling in love with her and tries to give her the courage to see the world. At the same time, Peter grows a beard that becomes the nest of an endangered bird and her three babies.
This episode displays a genuine pathos that the series seemed to have lost in its later seasons, with Brian and Peter being at their absolute best. Such emotion and energy are captured in the episode’s hilarious Emmy-winning song You’ve Got A Lot To See, which will make anyone want to go out and embrace life, despite how messed up the world may seem.
In the first of Family Guy’s many Road to episodes, Brian goes to pick up Stewie from a vacation in Palm Springs, but they must travel on foot back to Rhode Island after missing their plane. Meanwhile, in Quahog, Lois unknowingly makes Peter watch pornographic films masquerading as marriage counseling tapes.
Both storylines feature a lot of laughs, but Brian’s journey carries the most emotion, as he returns to his childhood home to reconcile with his estranged mother and grows closer to Stewie. And with it all ending with an outstanding musical number, Road to Rhode Island sowed the seeds for Brian and Stewie to become one of television’s greatest power couples.
After actor David Hyde Pierce experiences a wardrobe malfunction live at the Emmys, the FCC panics and places stricter censors on television. Though Peter starts his own TV channel with his own NSFW programs to combat this, the FCC fires back by censoring everything in real life.
Since Family Guy has repeatedly clashed with censors since its inception over its “adult” content, this episode perfectly mocks just how ridiculous the practice of censorship can be, which is best summed up by the now-iconic FCC Song.